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We're eloping! Where should we celebrate, just the two of us.

My fiancé and I have decided to get married, 10 months before our wedding, as a way to celebrate privately before the craziness of the "official" celebration We live in orange county and were going to do it on a Friday afternoon, then have a great dinner and spend the night in a great hotel room. The question is, where should we eat? We're willing to travel for something spectacular, if needed(LA, etc). We love food and were hoping for a place you wouldn't go to on a regular basis. A place with, above all, spectacular, creative, exciting food, but also nice atmosphere suitable for the celebratory mood. I love all types of food, but my fiancé doesn't really eat sushi. Other than that, the sky is the limit. We're willing to spend some cash, but not for a place that's all atmosphere and meh food. Thanks for your help!

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  1. Why dont you stay at Shutters on the beach in Santa Monica and have dinner next door at Capo? Very romantic room and outstanding food.

    1 Reply
    1. re: BSW6490

      I love the Shutters>Capo recommendation.

    2. If you want to have a lovely evening and stroll back to your room then the Studio at the Montage would be a good bet to cover your evening in romantic glory. Just talking food then Marche Moderne in Costa Mesa would probably rate as number one. First Cabin has gotten some good reviews here at the Balboa Bay Club and Mastro's Ocean Beach and Pascal are contenders as well.

      Enjoy your high tech loping (E-loping!) ;-D>

      30801 Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA

      Marche Moderne
      3333 Bristol Street, Suite 3001, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

      Mastros Restaurant
      2087 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, CA 91362

      Pascal (Tradition by)
      1000 Bristol Street North, Newport Beach, CA 92660

      Balboa Bay Club
      1221 W Coast Hwy Ste 145, Newport Beach, CA 92663

      1 Reply
      1. re: Servorg

        Note that Tradition by Pascal closes after Valentine's Day (how French!) and Monsieur Olhats will focus on his other restaurants. However, he reported to the Daily Pilot that Tradition will become the new home of Christophe Eme, late of Ortolan, who will be offering a more casual take on French food than he used to prepare. I like the Studio recommendation best, though, considering the OP's comments; however, I agree with you that, if food alone were the consideration, Marche Moderne would be the top choice.

        1. Shutters/Capo is good, but Melisse and the Bel Air is better. Much better. Shutters can be romantic, but the Hotel Bel Air iswhole 'nuther level of romance - one of the most romantic hotels in the world. Melisse is more formal, more special, more indulgent than Capo - which is solidly good. And if you can't make Melisse, Wolfgang Puck has a restaurant at the Bel Air.

          But I'd say rent a limo, go to Melisse, then to the Bel Air, and wake up in paradise.

          But I'd do Melisse, Bel Air, and then breakfast at the Terrace at the Bel Air. Please, just check out the website of the Bel Air before you do anything. 12 acres of lush Beverly Hills flora. It's amazingly charming and it just went thru a 100 million dollar renovation. There are swans and ponds and creeks. I'll include a pic.


          4 Replies
          1. re: foodiemahoodie

            Second Bel Air, but why not eat at the Bel Air? IMO checking in and not leaving is worth it.

            1. re: cls

              Check into the Bel Air and have your meals there. It will be a dream weekend.

              1. re: cls

                That makes sense, but this is Chowhound, not Hotelhound. I'm assuming dining is a priority and though there is a tremendous likelihood that Wolfgang Puck at The Bel Air will be a solid restaurant, I really don't know anyone I trust who has tried it.

                When I travel - I make reservations at restaurants, and then find the best hotel nearby. Get the best of two worlds and a 15 minute drive to the hotel.

                Since this is a special night - I'd get a limo so, after we've done the two Carte Blanche menus at Melisse with wine pairings - hop in the limo and use that 15 minute ride to the hotel as warming up for the main event. In fact I'd get to the hotel first, check in, have some champagne as the sun set, then go to dinner. There's only once chance on this special night - and pragmatism over decadence shouldn't be an issue.

                1. re: foodiemahoodie

                  I had the carte blanche at Melisse last week and it was fantastic. They also have a special 8-course foie gras menu that they will have until the ban goes into effect.

                  Melisse Restaurant
                  1104 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401

            2. Here are some more ideas though I do think Hotel Bel Air would be my first call. Animal and the Andaz Hotel. Hollywood area and a younger crowd and feel at both (don't know how old ya'll are).

              Michael's and the Fairmont Miramar. Another Santa Monica possibility and if you throw down for one of the bungalow's...OMG. At Michael's, make sure you get a patio table--there are enough that if you plan ahead it shouldn't be too difficult. As romatic a table as you can get.

              For my Beverly Hills ideas you can just mix and match restaurants and hotels at whim as they are all either in the same building or very close to each other. Scarpetta, CUT & Spago with either the Montage, Beverly Wilshire (a Four Seasons property) or the Four Seasons Beverly Hills which is about a 5 min. cab ride away. A note here, the food at CUT is pretty terrific but it is first and foremost a steakhouse.

              I can't figure out how to get the food reco right or I'd say you could keep going up the coast to Bacara. Cheers

              1 Reply
              1. re: ellaystingray

                I keep hearing really good things about Culina....in the Four Seasons in Beverly HIlls. But I'll join the group saying the Bel Air is incredibly romantic. But Shutters, with an ocean view, is a close second.

              2. Your ideal place is The Bazaar at the SLS Hotel.
                The whole atmosphere is creative and unique—dizzying Philippe Starck design, bar with fun cocktails, Jose Andres restaurants Rojo y Blanca, and a separate space for dessert. Then you can stroll past vitrines of cool books and tchotchkes to the hotel lobby where you can pause for a nightcap.
                Can't think of a better excuse for eloping.

                2 Replies
                1. re: iOnLa

                  Philippe Starck designs are the antithesis of romantic. I refuse to stay in any hotel designed by Starck.except on business.

                  1. re: maudies5

                    true. I still think the dinner part would be perfect, then they can mosey back to the Beverly Hills Hotel and have late breakfast/lunch in the Polo Lounge.
                    I'm not a fan of the renovated Bel-Air. they've smoothed out all the wonderful old wrinkles and left a bland, trendy (albeit non-Starck) "could be anywhere" hotel in its place. Haven't seen the rooms—the rack rates are astronomical—but we had drinks in the bar, which I used to love for being a dark, cozy hideaway and it's all black and pale wood, expensive so-so cocktails and awkward layout.

                2. Thanks for the amazing suggestions! We're going to start calling around and seeing what is available for the day we picked. We are resigned to the fact that our first act as husband and wife will be to sit in Friday traffic en route to our mini-celebration. I think we'll be too happy to care.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: learningslo

                    No one said congrats!?

                    CONGRATS. Doing the right thing. Wish eloping doesn't have that "escaping" denotation assigned to it.

                    Since you're coming from OC, I'd think RPV is closer? So check out Terranea's mar'sel. Really spectacular food, and you can spend a mini honey moon night there.

                    Which makes SLS/Bazaar my second choice. So much bling. You never know who you'll run into there.

                    1. re: TonyC

                      I was thinking the same thing...


                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      Saddle Peak Lodge? It might say lodge in the title, but there's no lodging there. I don't think there's a decent hotel nearby either.

                        1. re: Servorg

                          Or you could go the other direction If going to the wonderful one of a kind Saddle Peak Lodge:

                          Saddle Peak Lodge
                          419 Cold Canyon Rd., Calabasas, CA 91302

                          1. re: wienermobile

                            Just a note for the OP in regard to Saddle Peak, Malibu Beach Inn and the Four Seasons Westlake.

                            In the case of each hotel, they are considerably further away from the restaurant, in opposite directions, than any of the previous recommendations. If you fall in love with Saddle Peak (definitely celabratory and romantic and with probably exciting and creative food though maybe not always spectacular imo) then you'll just need to googlize the heck out of your trip and figure out the logistics.

                            Lastly, getting to Saddle Peak from the O.C. on a Friday night could be so excruciating as to threaten your ability to enjoy your evening.


                            1. re: ellaystingray

                              Saddle Peak is too remote (including from hotel) for this evening. You want it to be relaxed and easy. Montage is a good choice, Bel Air and again Shutters/Capo.

                        2. re: foodiemahoodie

                          Saddle Peak Lodge? It might say lodge in the title, but there's no lodging there. I don't think there's a decent hotel nearby either.


                          Get a limo.

                      1. How about Fig (delicious food) & the Fairmont Miramar. You can be relaxed and not have to worry about transportation once you get to Santa Monica. Plus, there's something particularly romantic about waking up near the water..

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: archer

                          I like Fig, Fig has good food. I look forward to going to Fig. But would you really call it celebratory? I mean, this is a very special night, maybe the most special night in your life. Celebrate it at Fig?

                          1. re: foodiemahoodie

                            I am tempted to recommend FIG in every single post about anything but I left it out of my post about the Fairmont and opted for Michael's instead. The reason is, while I think Ray Garcia does some of the most exciting and interesting food in the city, the decor still labors under the weight of having to be a three-meal a day restaurant in a hotel. I just really don't think it is celebratory in vibe. I'll give one example--the "dish-rag" napkins. Cool and I don't mind them but maybe not the right feel. Instead, go to FIG for brunch on Sunday!!!!!